Paul George on leaving Pacers: ‘I felt like the window had closed.’
Paul George says as the years went by with the Indiana Pacers, he felt their chances to field a championship contending team were dwindling.
George was traded last month to the Oklahoma City Thunder for guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis.
In an interview with SI.com's Lee Jenkins. George, who spent seven seasons in Indiana, says he understands the why people are upset about the trade.
“There’s no right way to handle it,” George says. “I get the frustration. But at the same time, I want the average fan to understand that we only get a small window to play this game and more than anything you want to be able to play for a championship. I wanted to bring that to Indiana. I really did. I love Indiana. That will always be a special place for me and I’m sorry for not holding on. But I wasn’t sure we’d ever get a team together to compete for a championship and that’s where all this came from.”
The team that had two straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances was slowly broken up, with players leaving one by one for free agency or being traded away.
"Here I am, the last guy, and I kind of felt a rebuild coming,” George says. “I felt like the window had closed. I thought they were going in a different direction and I wanted to go in a different direction.”
George says he never asked the team for a trade, but instead told them he intended to leave as a free agent next summer.
“I wanted them to have the opportunity to get something back if they didn’t want me to play that last year," he said.